The community of adaptation leaders should, indeed must, bolster its essential link with the national security apparatus. Three reports suggest why:
1. The Department of Defense has created a Roadmap (2014) with an objective to collaborate with stakeholders, including the adaptation community. Specifically, it says it seeks to promote deliberate collaboration with stakeholders across the Department and with other Federal, State, local, tribal and international agencies and oorganizations in addressing climate change considerations.
The report maintains that climate change “is a long-term trend, but with wise planning and risk mitigation now, we can reduce adverse impacts downrange.” The authors’ use of the term “downrange” is important. While it’s not necessarily the future, it’s a target that may be farther away and, therefore, requires careful preparation to nail.
The report concludes: “By taking a proactive, flexible approach to assessment, analysis, and adaptation, the Defense Department will keep pace with a changing climate, minimize its impacts on our missions, and continue to protect our national security.”
2. In 2015, the DOD released another report on the national implications of climate change that notes the need to adapt military facilities – many located along the coasts and/or in arid environments – and to develop adaptation strategies to diffuse risks in developing countries.
3. The White House in September released a Statement and a National Security document about integrating climate change into national security. But, in a missed opportunity, the documents do not mention adaptation.
As panel submission deadlines loom for the biannual National Adaptation Forum, I hope its steering committee has invited the DOD to speak at the May 2017 forum. The Defense Department is at the frontline in its adaptation leadership. We should try to leapfrog one another, helping to inform adaptation strategies for communities of stakeholders and to enhance research to action.